2019 MINI Countryman vs. 2019 Fiat 500L

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Countryman offers optional City Safety, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 500L doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Countryman offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 500L doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Countryman has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The 500L doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The Countryman’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The 500L doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Countryman and the 500L have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the MINI Countryman is safer than the 500L:

 

Countryman

500L

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

115

228

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

4 cm

14 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Femur Force R/L

1/.9 kN

10.1/3.9 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

63%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

ACCEPTABLE

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.82/.52

.88/.82

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Countryman the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 154 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500L was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Countryman’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the 500L’s (12 vs. 5 years).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Countryman for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Fiat doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the 500L.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Countryman’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500L’s camshaft. If the 500L’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Countryman’s reliability 53 points higher than the 500L.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 17th in reliability. With 39 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

The Countryman S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 29 more horsepower (189 vs. 160) and 23 lbs.-ft. more torque (207 vs. 184) than the 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The JCW Countryman’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 68 more horsepower (228 vs. 160) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 184) than the 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Countryman S is faster than the Fiat 500L (automatics tested):

 

Countryman

500L

Zero to 60 MPH

7.4 sec

8.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.7 sec

16.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.7 MPH

84.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Countryman gets better fuel mileage than the 500L:

 

 

 

MPG

Countryman

FWD

Manual

1.5 turbo 3 cyl.

24 city/33 hwy

 

Auto

1.5 turbo 3 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

 

 

S 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/32 hwy

AWD

Manual

1.5 turbo 3 cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

 

 

S 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

 

 

JCW 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

 

Auto

1.5 turbo 3 cyl.

23 city/30 hwy

 

 

S 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/31 hwy

 

 

JCW 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

500L

FWD

Auto

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the Countryman’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The 500L doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The Countryman has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500L (16.1 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Countryman offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The 500L doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

An eight-speed automatic is available on the MINI Countryman, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the 500L.

Brakes and Stopping

The Countryman stops much shorter than the 500L:

 

Countryman

500L

 

60 to 0 MPH

120 feet

132 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

130 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Countryman has larger tires than the 500L (225/55R17 vs. 205/55R16).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Countryman has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the 500L Pop. The Countryman’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the 500L Trekking/Lounge.

The MINI Countryman’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500L only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the Countryman can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The 500L doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the MINI Countryman has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Fiat 500L has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Countryman has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Countryman flat and controlled during cornering. The 500L’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Countryman offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The 500L’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Countryman’s wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than on the 500L (105.1 inches vs. 102.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Countryman is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the 500L.

The Countryman S ALL4 handles at .83 G’s, while the 500L Lounge pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Countryman S ALL4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the 500L Lounge (27.2 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Countryman a Mid-size car, while the 500L is rated a Small Station Wagon.

The Countryman has .4 inches more front legroom and .9 inches more rear legroom than the 500L.

Flexibility is maximized at the game, campground or a drive-in theatre in the Countryman when its optional tailgating rear seats are deployed, allowing people to sit facing out of the liftgate. (Do not use while vehicle is in motion.) The 500L doesn’t offer tailgating seats.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waving your foot can open the Countryman’s power liftgate, leaving your hands completely free. The Countryman’s power liftgate can also be opened or closed by pressing a button. The 500L doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the Countryman, the optional memory seats make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The 500L doesn’t offer memory seats.

The Countryman offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The 500L doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the Countryman the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the 500L can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Start/Stop Switch standard on the Countryman allows you to start the engine without removing a key from pocket or purse (optional Comfort Access will also allow unlocking the driver’s door and cargo door without taking your keys out). The Fiat 500L doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Countryman has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500L doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Countryman’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The 500L’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Countryman to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 500L doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Countryman has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500L doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Countryman detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500L doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Countryman offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The 500L doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To better shield the driver’s vision, the Countryman has a standard dual-element sun visor that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The 500L doesn’t offer a secondary sun visor.

The Countryman offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 500L offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Countryman and the 500L offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Countryman has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The 500L doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Countryman offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 500L doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Countryman’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The 500L doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

The Countryman will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Countryman will retain 48.66% to 51.06% of its original price after five years, while the 500L only retains 33.98% to 34.52%.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the MINI Countryman, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Fiat 500L isn't recommended.

The MINI Countryman outsold the Fiat 500L by over 12 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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